Art: Painting in Public - Plein Aire

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  1. #1
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    Painting in Public - Plein Aire

    I live in the heart of Memphis and we have some killer scenery around the downtown area, beautiful architecture that has recently been renovated. I want to get out and paint next spring but I'm concerned about some issues special to painting in public.

    First, can you get arrested for loitering? What about muggers and stuff? (Memphis is the murder capital of the United States) Even in a busy place do you run into problems?

    Some of you have more experience with plein aire so let's discuss our experiences.

    Me, I've only drawn stuff in my backyard....

    ---- -
    sehertu mannu narāṭu ina pānāt šagapīru ningishzidda
    abrahadabra
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    Hey there! Pleine air is the shit! Most fun i ever had painting, nad very challenging. I paint in NYC, usually where there are a lot of people. They are very curious, and sometimes ive had up to 15 people behind me watching. Nerve racking at first, but you get used to it. Then there are the kids, they love it, and talk to you and ask loads of questions. Then we have the people that want to chat... Ive never had any problems with mugging and stuff, but as I said, mostly I paint in public places with lots of tourists. If your lucky you might even sell something!

    [url=http://galleryonefone.blogspot.com[/url] This would be my gallery in Sweden

    This would be my Pleine Air blog
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  5. #3
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    Cool thanks Tim, that makes me feel better, maybe I'll head over to Beale sometime when the weather warms up, lots of neon over there.

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    abrahadabra
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    Loitering? Interesting – I’ve never worried about that one. I suppose it isn’t much of a concern around the small towns I’ve loitered in with my paints. I suspect that if you parked yourself right under a “no loitering” sign, you could find yourself being asked to leave. I doubt you would be arrested, unless you made a fuss over leaving when they asked you to.

    The only trouble I ever got in was making the mistake of sitting in a small, private parking lot, and asking someone to move their car when they pulled in and blocked my view. That person turned out to be the owner of the parking lot and attached business. He wasn’t thrilled, and I realized at once what an ass I was being. But all he did was ask me not to ask his customers to move their cars. I left out of embarrassment.

    On another occasion, a shop-owner was opening up, and setting out goods around me while I painted. I asked him if he would like me to move. He laughed and said I was good for business.

    Muggers. . . use as much common sense as possible, I guess. Don’t set up somewhere that feels too empty or unsafe. Don’t hesitate to get up and leave n the middle of a good painting if an area you thought was safe starts to feel unsafe. Maybe keep a wallet on you with just some cash and dummy cards, so that if you get mugged you’ll have a decoy to hand over. Maybe wear your grubbiest possible painting clothes so that you don’t look worth robbing.

    I suspect mostly you’ll find yourself talking with curious people, though. Painting in public is a great way to end up in conversation with people you wouldn’t normally chat with.

    Have fun out there!

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    It can definitely be a bit nerve wracking, but I've never regretted it.
    You can always start with drawing plein aire first.

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    The kids and families are great, and tourists also often want to see what you are doing. You run into a heckler from time to time who will yell out of a passing car trying to get you to mess up, or something like that. If you are in a dicey neighborhood maybe fix up a rear view mirror to your easel. I have thought about that because of the mountain lion threat in some of the places I go to.

    The problem I have had with governmental authority is as follows: I was drawing trees in my sketchbook one day in a government mall near my office. There is a federal building in that mall and a federal goon came out and looked through my sketchbook for terrorist plans. When he didn't find any he nevertheless insisted that I leave. Don't go near federal buildings. The First Amendment apparently doesn't count if you are drawing in the same block as a federal building.

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    [QUOTE=arttorney;1564427] I have thought about that because of the mountain lion threat in some of the places I go to./QUOTE]


    Fucking hell!

    [url=http://galleryonefone.blogspot.com[/url] This would be my gallery in Sweden

    This would be my Pleine Air blog
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    Ha ha. At least those places are not in what most people would consider "in public" In northern Arizona it is possible to take an easy day trip to some remote canyon in the national forest which is pristine wilderness. It's nice to paint such places, but probably a good idea to pay attention to what goes on around you.

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    I love to work in public, if it's only for collecting comments:
    "Hmmm, I don't see a sketch or something" (after 1 minute of drawing)
    "If I remain standing here, will you draw me too" (yes, but you'll need to remain here for a loooooong time)
    "My neighbour draws a lot too, but *he* is very good"

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    Generally there's no problem, as mentioned earlier, kids and families are great,

    one time i was drawing a saint in a church facade and after awhile i found
    myself surrounded by 30 2nd graders and a nun....they just asked questions and passed my kneaded eraser around. They were quite nice all-round and some of the kids asked me to go visit them at school and teach them to draw

    Last week, a little girl walked by, stopped, then said look mommy an artist, no an illustrator! (you'd think painter would be the obvious choice right?)

    also, a family passed by on a different occasion, the kids stopped and the youngest girl ran to her parents and said loook its awwweeeessssommmeee

    A girl my age (18-20ish) also stopped by and said something somewhat unintelligible, although i think i was something like "i like van gogh better, he's simpler" or something.

    The only bad experience I've had was a few days before halloween, i got off on the wrong bus stop, and I saw a nice church, so i decided to draw. A few minutes later I had a middle aged homeless man sporting no teeth all pissed off, standing like 3 inches away from me, speaking in a hardly understandable manner

    bum:whatchu doin there
    me:oh, i'm drawing this church
    bum: what? you got your little pose there? you got your little pose?
    me: uhhhh...sure?
    bum: well you better make sure when you done you pay that man!
    me: um, ok sir...i will (then i walk away calmly)

    So that was strange, but that's downtown LA for ya!

    Anyway, hope the plein-airing goes well!

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  14. #11
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    Good stories! We should have an official thread for pleine air!

    Ive had people lean on my easel, kids putting their fingers in paints, other artists coming up and giving little lectures, buisness cards being exchanges, girls giving phone numbers, others art students keenly watching, people tripping over my easel, had about 20 people behind me looking on, all in all though its the shit, I love it.


    Here is a good and fun read from www.handprint. com where you will find SOOO much infor on watercolors that you will be reading for days. It never ends, and its the most thorough and comprehensive and scientifically (and anal) set test ground for everything Ive ever seen.


    http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/tech32.html#position


    quoted from the page

    "There's nothing to do about it except get in there and paint — just don't think you're weird or abnormal because you feel naked and out of control.

    Isn't that what good sex is all about?"

    "The spectator is a kind of large insect that is strongly attracted to wet paint. It will typically block your light, buzz into your concentration, and bite you with pointless questions (are you painting? is that a painting? how long ya been painting? where'd ya learn to paint?) and comments (it sure is a fine day, hey look he's painting, my brother paints better than that, I wish I could paint, I used to paint, I think it's great that you're painting, that boat looks brown to me — of course, the worst possible comment is always hey, get the baby, let's eat lunch here!). You can try ignoring them, but these bugs can be very clever. I've been duped into responding by being asked directions, the time of day — anything that it seems rude to ignore — and once I answer the bug is chirping its intrusive song."

    Last edited by timpaatkins; December 23rd, 2007 at 12:09 PM.
    [url=http://galleryonefone.blogspot.com[/url] This would be my gallery in Sweden

    This would be my Pleine Air blog
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  16. #12
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    great link! haha giant insects... despite all the crap I have to put up with sometimes, I'm a people person, so I like onlookers for the most part.

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  17. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by timpaatkins View Post
    "The spectator is a kind of large insect that is strongly attracted to wet paint. It will typically block your light, buzz into your concentration, and bite you with pointless questions (are you painting? is that a painting? how long ya been painting? where'd ya learn to paint?) and comments (it sure is a fine day, hey look he's painting, my brother paints better than that, I wish I could paint, I used to paint, I think it's great that you're painting, that boat looks brown to me — of course, the worst possible comment is always hey, get the baby, let's eat lunch here!). You can try ignoring them, but these bugs can be very clever. I've been duped into responding by being asked directions, the time of day — anything that it seems rude to ignore — and once I answer the bug is chirping its intrusive song."
    That's so sad and cynical! Painting outdoors among people gives you the chance to be an active part of the community. Whoever wrote that needs to go hunker down in a studio or needs to go out somewhere secluded and get good and lonesome so they can appreciate what they've got.

    Oh, yes, business cards. They are a great way to thank someone for their attention and swiftly turn your attention back to painting.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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  18. #14
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    He he, I like the occasional talk too, its when I get the someone who stands there for 30 min going on and on, when all i want to do is listen to my music and get that damn value relationship right! Luckily, apparently i look like a psychopath when I'm painting, so not that many people approach me. Except of course, the ones that are psychos themselves. Hmm... "a penny drops"

    [url=http://galleryonefone.blogspot.com[/url] This would be my gallery in Sweden

    This would be my Pleine Air blog
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  19. #15
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    I really enjoy painting outdoors, especially if I have a few painter buddies nearby. There's something exhilarating about trying to capture the light as it changes constantly and the effect of wind upon foliage that won't stand still, but dances. It's maddening but addicting.

    The most unusual experience I had was when I was painting in Echo Park with a friend. We were painting the lily pond before it was in bloom. It was an overcast day and the park was busy with joggers. A small group of people came over to me and asked if they could interview and film me for a class assignment. They were very friendly and I consented. I felt like an amateur, an impostor.

    I've also done black and white landscape paintings and had people come up to me and say "That's not the right color!" and have to explain what I was doing.

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  20. #16
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    get an iPod and get out there.

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  21. #17
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    I got hit on by underage girls in victorian era costumes while plein air painting at a museum event. They were even affecting accents. It was all fun until I figured out they were highschool thespians not yet in college.

    S S G 2 9
    -Fishspawn-Blue Severin- rayk-

    You're an artist, not a meat camera. -Elwell
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  22. #18
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    Wanted to go out and paint for a while my self, but i dont like to be surround by lots of people.

    Great storys guys! Thanks

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  23. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Severin View Post
    I got hit on by underage girls in victorian era costumes while plein air painting at a museum event. They were even affecting accents. It was all fun until I figured out they were highschool thespians not yet in college.
    hahahaha score!

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